Yesterday, you began documenting your food in a food journal. How are you doing?
Your food journal should give you some insight into your diet and how you are fulfilling your nutrition needs. I know it has been eye-opening for me.
Today we will talk about diet recommendations for optimal fertility health. These recommendations come from NaProTechnology doctors as well as other health experts.
It is important to remember that nothing replaces your doctor and you should always discuss your diet with your doctor first. These are only recommendations and are not meant to be taken as medical advice.
Dr. Michael Parker, a NaProTechnology doctor, emphasizes the importance of addressing diet as the first treatment for fertility issues. We have the ability to work with our doctor and start treating ourselves with better nutrition.
As discussed earlier, food is fuel for our body and so we need to be putting in the right fuel for our body to be functioning at its optimal level.
Dr. Parker as well as most health experts agree that the Standard American Diet is not the right choice for women. What is the Standard American Diet?
- High in unhealthy fats – especially trans fat
- High in processed flours & sugars
- Fast food & Packaged foods
- High in unhealthy carbs – usually from refined grains
The Standard American Diet can lead to insulin resistance and cause cortisol levels to increase, thus leading to decreased fertility function.
What is the BEST diet choice for optimal fertility health?
First, I need to emphasize there is no one size fits all diet. We all have different genetic makeup and so our diet needs to be personalized to our bodies.
That being said, there are some recommendations Dr. Parker and other experts have made to help improve fertility health.
- Avoid processed flours & sugars, especially fructose
These can be found in processed foods and fast foods. Try to avoid pre-packaged foods, even if they are labeled organic. There is little to no nutrition in processed foods.
White flours and sugars also have no nutritional value.
- Gluten free can be helpful
It is important to understand that if you choose to begin eating gluten free, you do not replace baked goods with the gluten free counterparts. Gluten free baked goods are high in starches which in large quantities is not good for your body.
- Aim for eating your carbs from vegetables
Vegetables contain a tremendous wealth of vitamins, nutrients, minerals and fiber. Some vegetables are full of “phytonutrients” which act as powerful antioxidants. They prevent damage to cells and help improve the immune system. Vegetables also provide a good source of fiber which can help stabilize blood sugar.
- Fats are okay – except trans fats
Whole milk and other whole fat dairy is recommended. Women need fat to produce fertility hormones. Stay away from seed oils and trans fat. Aim for fats from butter, coconut oil, olive oil and avocado oil. Stay away from low fat and no fat foods. They usually replace the fat with sugar in these foods to make the them more palatable.
- Increase your vegetable protein
In one research study they found that women who consumed high amounts of animal protein has a 20% higher risk of infertility. Women that increased their consumption of vegetable protein had a 43% reduction in infertility symptoms.
This study, as Dr. Parker points out, was looking at consumption of conventional red meat and not grass-fed meat.
- Eat when hungry; stop when full
This sounds simple, right? If we have been eating a lot of processed foods with sugar, our body may not be sending the right signals to our brain to tell us we are full.
Dr. Parker recommends eating slower, chewing your food and allowing your stomach to catch up and tell your brain that you are full. Eat while sitting down and not while watching tv.
The ideal diet would avoid insulin extremes, reduce inflammation, balance energy and restore cellular function. It would include a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables, nuts from trees, lots of fish, and moderate animal protein.
Dr. Parker as well as other experts recommend anti-inflammatory diets, especially for women suffering with reproductive health issues. The Paleo diet and the Mediterranean diet have been shown to improve fertility health.
Another recommendation is the Whole30 program. This is a 30-day elimination diet to help you identify if any foods known to cause inflammation are contributing to your health issues. After 30 days, you slowly reintroduce each food and create the optimal diet for you and your body.
There is a saying around the Internet “JERF”. It stands for Just Eat Real Food. I cannot emphasize that enough. Whole, real, unprocessed food is what our body was made to consume.
Want to learn more? (Below contains affiliate links which means I receive a small amount to help run this website)
Check out “The Paleo Solution” by Robb Wolff, “The Woman Code” by Alisa Vitti, and “Fertility, Cycles & Nutrition” by Marilyn Shannon. These are great resources that go more in depth into diet and how it can impact our fertility health.
Don't forget to share you thoughts on the 31 Day Fertility Care Challenge Facebook Group!